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Whale and Sea Turtle Watching

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Whale and Sea Turtle Watching

Whale and Marine Turtle Watching Tourism: An Economic Pillar for Reunion Island

Reunion Island is preparing to inaugurate its whale and marine turtle watching season, an activity that proves to be a vital economic driver for the island.

In a strategic meeting held on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, local authorities and stakeholders converged on a common goal: to promote this lucrative activity while preserving marine biodiversity. Under the chairmanship of Sylvie Cendre, sub-prefect of the western district, in the presence of representatives from the Directorate of Environment, Planning, and Housing (DEAL) and the Directorate of the Southern Indian Ocean Sea (DMSOI), the session was marked by the participation of influential personalities such as Huguette Bello, President of the Reunion Region, and Emmanuel Séraphin, Mayor of Saint-Paul. The Globice association and the Quiétude team, pioneers of awareness since 2017, were also present to reinforce the impact of this initiative.

Whale and marine turtle watching generate keen interest in Reunion, where nearly 98 whales are recorded each season. These majestic marine mammals and turtles are key players in the island’s marine ecosystem, attracting visitors from around the world looking for a unique experience. Thus, observing whales and marine turtles is a driver of tourist development and a significant generator of income for the local economy.

« It is essential to raise awareness to preserve all this because our environment is fragile. We must be pragmatic and work together to reduce our impact on biodiversity », emphasizes Ms. Bello. She insists on educating visitors about a respectful approach to the marine environment. Mr. Séraphin, on the other hand, highlights the municipality’s long-term commitment to the blue economy. He points out the importance of understanding marine animal behaviors better to foster harmonious cohabitation. The Mayor expresses his pride in creating the Lycee des Métiers de la Mer, an initiative supported by the Reunion Region. This institution strengthens the knowledge and skills of local actors, thus contributing to the preservation of marine wildlife and the promotion of quality ecotourism.

For the record, the previous season recorded the observation of 417 whales, testifying to the increasing appeal of this activity. The meeting was an opportunity to remind attendees of the regulations concerning the approach and observation of cetaceans, including guidelines on launching, safety distances, appropriate behaviors, and checks to respect. These measures aim to ensure responsible and respectful observation of these natural wonders.

Whale and marine turtle watching in Reunion embodies the synergy between biodiversity preservation and economic development. By valuing this exceptional natural asset, the island strengthens its position as a favored tourist destination while actively participating in preserving marine ecosystems.

Mias Sylvia

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